Did you make any resolutions on New Year’s Eve? If you did, I wish you the best at trying to keep them. Well, it’s the effort that counts, doesn’t it? Resolutions work well for some people, although, I must say, in the recent past, I haven’t done too well at keeping them. This year I’m being adventurous and taking up a year-long project that I’ll be documenting, and sharing (in part) with you right here.
Nearly three years ago, I chanced upon a fabulous read titled The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was deeply moved by her practical approach to the concept of happiness and went on to construct my own action plan. The year 2016 was about a three-pronged approach: Be Light-Hearted – Be Forgiving – Be Thankful. It was pretty easy to stick to the plan when the skies were blue, but then came the storm – my sister passed away unexpectedly – and I fell apart. I struggled through a large part of 2017 too. I found it hard to be thankful or forgiving. Some days I’d manage to see the rainbow, but then thick clouds would soon appear, refusing to depart. But my biggest struggle was being light-hearted. It felt almost like a force-fit!
And so I’m taking a jab at it once again, but this time I’m going to break it up into manageable tasks thus making room for achievable goals. I’m calling it The Ordinary Life Project — a year dedicated to celebrating the joys of ordinary life!
My project doesn’t aim at finding all the answers to life, and it isn’t about achieving the highest-level of happiness. And before you make any assumptions, it is not about going a year without any purchases or aborting my travel/vacation plans either, because life is much more than a couple of long weekend getaways, perfect piece of clothing or a well-made cocktail. This project is going to focus on the remaining odd 335 days when people ask me “so what’s happening in your life” and I give the cliched “nothing much, same old stuff.” I want to appreciate the magic in that nothing much!
Maslow described us mere mortals as needy beings, and rightly so! It’s only been a few years now, since I’ve begun to see the firm wall that stands tall and sturdy, dividing our mind’s battlefield into ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ zones. I’ve spent a few good years of my life working hard trying to tick off all the boxes on my mental achiever’s list, in some way trying to add the ‘extra’ to my ‘ordinary’ life. But the greys on my head have begun to whisper in my ears “Your ordinary is someone else’s extraordinary. Stop. Be still and enjoy it.” So now I’d like to soak in those ordinary moments instead of taking them for granted.
The last two weeks of 2017 were about introspection. I went right back to the drawing board and realised that if I wanted the three-pronged approach to work, I needed to tackle specific areas of my life. As Van Gogh shared, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” The last three years have been my key years of mental and emotional growth – the birth of a child, loss of a sibling, changing career paths – I’d like to label them as my mental growth spurt years. After much thought, I closed in on the five key areas that will be part of the tasks in my project.
Here they are:
Nourishment – The best body art
Relationships – Understanding love
Community – The largest co-working space
My Mind – The most explosive minefield
Work – Creative exploration
I’m going to begin my project this month by practising the art of being light-hearted. To truly be able to enjoy the ordinary, I’m pretty sure this is where I need to begin. I intend working on my facial muscles allowing for many more smiles and laughs in 2018. Let’s see where this road leads.
I will be posting my successes and failed attempts, and repeated efforts too, using photos and blog posts. The frequency of posts will vary depending on my experiences and learnings each month. So wish me luck, and if you’d like to join me in this project leave me a message in the comments section or connect with me via email, and we can find a way to travel this path together. If you’d like to participate by sharing photos of your life’s ordinary yet joyful moments, feel free to use #TheOrdinaryLifeProject hashtag and reflect on your own journey at the end of this year.
Keep reading this blog for more updates on The Ordinary Life Project.